EldestGirl started primary school this week. She has had a period of “settling in”, with half-days, and today marks her first full day at school.
I think she will be fine. I didn’t really understand the whole “sobbing at the classroom door” thing, either for her or for me. She looked a bit apprehensive but was cheerful enough. As for me, well, she’s been doing some form of childcare since she was a year old, so – to me at least – it didn’t seem any more emotional than dropping her off at nursery. In fact, her school days will be much shorter than her nursery days.
What I have realised though is that I do not enjoy the school run. I am a fairly organised individual. Her school bag is ready the night before. Uniform is laid out ready to wear. Children are bathed in the evening. I get dressed whilst TheBloke(TM) gives the children breakfast before leaving for work. By 8.15 a.m. we are all ready, and just need to have our shoes on. We have a leisurely 15 minutes before we need to leave the house. But then something weird seems to happen. YoungestGirl will need a nappy change; we can’t find our shoes; my keys are not where I’ve left them; I’ll remember I haven’t prepared EldestGirl’s water bottle. Suddenly – whilst not quite running late, we are no longer having a leisurely stroll, but quite-a-quick-walk.
Speaking of water bottles, when did this become a thing? At primary school we had drinking fountains, which I don’t remember ever using unless it was a hot day and we’d been doing PE, and jugs of water on the table at lunchtime, and that was it. At what point did we decide that our children need to be continuously hydrated? And at what point in EldestGirl’s childhood did I spoil her so much that this morning she requested, “Just two slices of lime in my water bottle today, please Mummy.”?
So the school run. It’s about a ten-minute walk with a buggy and a not-quite-five-year-old. Unfortunately we have to go past the park, at which point YoungestGirl shouts, “SWINGS SWINGS SWINGS” for the full three minutes it takes to get past it. (Sometimes this is replaced by “CAT CAT CAT” or “WOOF WOOF WOOF” if we see an appropriate animal).
We get to the school and parents are allowed into the classroom to say farewell and settle their child. I did this for the first three days and won’t be doing it again. EldestGirl is fine but YoungestGirl has hysterics when I try and remove her from the reading corner/ toy animals / stickle bricks and then screams her sister’s name for the next five minutes while I try and wrangle her back in the buggy. Today I didn’t let her out of the buggy and sort of shoved EldestGirl into the classroom by herself. She might talk to her therapist about it at a later date. That’s cool with me.
Then I have to do the journey in reverse to get back home. (“WOOF WOOF WOOF, CAT CAT CAT, SWINGS SWINGS SWINGS”)
After what seems to be no time at all, it’s already time to go and pick EldestGirl up. (“SWINGS SWINGS SWINGS, CAT CAT CAT, WOOF WOOF WOOF; WOOF WOOF WOOF, CAT CAT CAT, SWINGS SWINGS SWINGS”)
The half-day settling in routine has also dicked around with YoungestGirl’s nap. She normally goes down at midday for about 1.5 hours. Because we’ve been collecting her sister at 1 p.m., she hasn’t been napping until about 1.15. I optimistically put her down at midday today, but she has been standing in her cot for the last 60 minutes shouting, “PIGGY PIGGY PIGGY”, and I have no idea why. Still, she seems happy enough.